I’m a mattress writer — 5 mistakes people make after buying a new mattress

 Two women unbox a Helix mattress after leaving it in its box for too long, which is a common mistake people make after buying a new mattress.
Two women unbox a Helix mattress after leaving it in its box for too long, which is a common mistake people make after buying a new mattress.

As a sleep writer, I know how difficult it can be to choose a new mattress. After all, there are so many different brands out there and the one you opt for has to suit your sleep style and your budget. So once that decision is made and your mattress is on its way to your home, you’d think your job was done right?

Well, no, because there are five common mistakes people make after buying a mattress that can result in it not lasting as long as it should or becoming too uncomfortable to sleep on, fast.

The best mattresses we have tested will last between seven and 10 years on average, and if you want to get the most out of your investment then you need to take good care of your mattress – and that care starts from the moment you buy it. Based on my own experience of researching and reviewing mattresses, here are the five common mistakes to avoid if you've just purchased a new mattress...

5 mistakes people make after buying a mattress

1. They leave it unboxed for too long

Leaving your mattress in a compressed state for too long can cause problems with its materials, shape and performance. In particular, when you do finally unbox your mattress, you could find that it doesn’t expand properly, especially around the corners, leading to a misshapen bed and an uneven sleep surface.

Another problem you could face by leaving your bed in it’s box for too long is  pungent off-gassing – much more than normal.

Plus, if you’ve not followed the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to unboxing, you could find that they won’t accept for a refund or exchange as your actions would have violated any sleep trial or warranty in place, then you’ll be left with a mattress that won’t be giving you the better sleep experience you were hoping for.

2. They place the mattress the wrong way down

Most mattresses nowadays are constructed with layers stacked in a specific order. Each layer has a particular job to do, so when you place your mattress the wrong way down on your bed frame, not only do you risk damaging your mattress, you're missing out on the comfort and support it has been designed to offer you.

Image shows an Emma mattress placed the right way up on a grey bed frame
Image shows an Emma mattress placed the right way up on a grey bed frame

We're constantly researching and sleeping on the best hybrid mattresses for all sleepers, and we know from testing them that the comfort layers are on top with the springs on the bottom. If you play your hybrid mattress the wrong way down on your bed frame, you'll be sleeping on the spring side – that will feel very uncomfortable, too firm and it won’t properly support your spine.

Plus, because each of the layers in a hybrid mattress has different properties, sleeping on the wrong side will cause it to to sag and dip prematurely.

The same goes for the all-foam beds. These use different types of memory foam in each layer, and by sleeping on the wrong side you won’t get the body contouring or pressure relief the best memory foam mattresses are renowned for. Undue stress on the softer comfort layers will also cause them to compress unevenly and eventually tear and breakdown.

3. They don’t let it expand before sleeping on it

The best mattresses in a box are compressed with a heavy weight before being tightly rolled and packaged in a box for shipping. Once delivered, you need to unbox your mattress as soon as possible then leave it to fully expand before sleeping on it. If you lie on it while it's expanding, you risk damaging the materials and build.

How long a mattress takes to expand depends on the brand, but this information is usually included with the mattress packaging. A Helix mattress, for example, takes just 45-60 minutes to fully expand. An Eve mattress is best left for 24 hours.

Memory foam in particular struggles to recover before it’s fully expanded, so you could be left with an uneven or sagging sleep surface if you sleep on a memory foam mattress before it has fully expanded. That could lead to back and joint pain over due to sleeping on a non-supportive mattress.

4. They don’t cover it with a mattress protector

Accidents happen, so investing in one of the best mattress protectors from the very start means your mattress is safeguarded from the first night. Mattress protectors act like a shield providing a barrier between you and your mattress.

Woman cleaning a mattress stained with tea
Woman cleaning a mattress stained with tea

They stop sweat, spills, dust mites from penetrating your mattress, plus other potential threats that can damage or stain the mattress from ever getting near its surface.

A mattress protector is also vital to some mattress trials. These differ between between brands, but one thing most of them have in common is that they won't let you return or exchange your mattress if it's stained or damaged.

5. They don’t use their full mattress trial

Getting used to a new mattress doesn’t happen as quick as you may think, and that’s why all brands offer between 90 and 365-night mattress trials. Although we don’t expect you to sleep on your mattress for up to a year if you’re finding it uncomfortable, you should give it at least 30 days before making a decision.

It can take around 30 nights for your body to adjust to a new mattress, especially if you’ve switched to a different type of mattress compared to the one you used to sleep on.

Also, some brands won’t allow you to return your mattress before the 30 day period. And although these trials do come risk-free, if you try to return within 30 days you could find that you’re charged a fee. The exception is if your mattress is damaged upon delivery.

How long do mattresses last?

  • Memory foam mattresses tend to last between 8-10 years

  • Hybrid mattresses on average last 7-10 years

  • Latex mattresses can last up to 20 years

  • Traditional inner spring mattresses last up to 7 years

Typically you can expect your mattress to last between seven and ten years, although latex mattresses can last up to 20 years. How long your mattress will last depends on a few factors such as the quality of the mattress, the type of material used to make it, and how well you care for it.

If you want your mattress to last longer, rotate it at least once every six months to keep the surface even and to spread out wear and tear. Learning how to clean a mattress properly can also prolong its lifespan, and covering it with a good quality mattress protector. Finally, make sure that the foundation your mattress sits on is compatible.

If after reading this you decide you need a new mattress, below are our top recommendations for today's live mattress sales.

Today's top mattress sales to consider